From the mid-1980s, when she was spotted in the string section of saxophonist Donald Walden’s Detroit Jazz Orchestra, and in solo roles around her native Motor City with artists like guitarist Spencer Barefield, to her days as star soloist with the band Straight Ahead, to a stint with the String Trio of New York, to her electrifying cameo appearance in Wynton Marsalis’ Blood on the Fields tour, and more recent sightings in Steve Turre’s sextet, it’s been clear that Regina Carter is an exceptional and refreshing talent. And now on the strength of the broad rhythmic boundaries and marvelous playing on her Verve Records debut, Rhythms of the Heart, the proof is in the pudding that with the passing of Stephane Grappelli, the jazz violin torch has been passed to this remarkable spirit from Detroit.
Broad boundaries and wide vistas are common themes of Regina Carter’s journey. As she spoke from her Manhattan digs, our conversation veered to her recent collaboration with the award-winning playwright Anna Deavere Smith. “She’s working on a play called House Arrest.” Ms. Deavere Smith is a masterful improviser and her works are in constant evolution, much like jazz. “It deals with certain presidents and their scandals and how the press dealt with them: Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Clinton…. And she deals a little bit with Princess Di and how the press exploited her and how the public reacted.